A little more than a year ago, the warnings were out: Between one-half and three-fourths of employees were at least passively looking for a new job at all times, various surveys said.

Not anymore: The recession has glued more would-be job-changers to their chairs. They have watched colleagues get the ax and read the unemployment reports.

The number of long-term unemployed has tripled over the last year. More than one in four job hunters have been hunting for more than 26 weeks. Staying put now seems a whole lot safer than searching for greener pastures. Who knows if those pastures won't be mown, too?

The professional services firm of Towers Perrin surveyed 650,000 employees for its quarterly Workplace Watch report, finding the diminished enthusiasm for job hunting.

Last year, after the recession officially began, between 64 percent and 66 percent of employees surveyed said they were "not seriously considering leaving" their companies. This year, the percentage jumped to 71 percent.

At the start of the recession, 56 percent of those surveyed said it "would take a lot for me to look for another employer." This year, 64 percent.

Behind these statistics are feelings - and stress.

Just 55 percent of workers in the Towers Perrin survey said they are able to balance work and personal responsibilities. That's down from 63 percent a year ago.

Furthermore, workers who remain onboard express more confusion about their roles. Sixty-nine percent said they clearly understand the goals and objectives of their company, down from 81 percent. That should be a cause for concern in any organization that hopes the team is rowing in the same direction.

And, even though the rank and file academically understands the recession and the job market forces at work, they're more likely to point fingers of blame at their bosses. Only 50 percent of the Towers Perrin respondents said their top management was good at providing leadership, down from 57 percent.

Meanwhile, physicians report that health complaints because of stress are up. Some analysts suggest that survivors' guilt is taking a toll in two radically different ways. Some workers have responded by revving up to meet or exceed all the do-more-with-less expectations. Others are in a what's-the-use funk.

No question about it. These are tough motivational times.

But there's also no question that it's better to be employed than not.

(Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Her "Your Job" blog at economy.kansascity.com includes daily posts about job-related issues of wide interest. She can be reached at dstafford@kcstar.com.)

(c) 2009, The Kansas City Star.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.